Marijuana is set to be legalized for recreational use as of October 17, 2018. For many employers still struggling with how to accommodate employees who have been prescribed cannabis for medicinal purposes, this will create new challenges and questions. How do you define impairment and fitness for work? What types of tasks are safety-sensitive? These are key concerns that leadership needs to manage before the legislation passes.

Here is a sampling of insights from the CEO Health + Safety Leadership Network panel discussion, captured in the Marijuana in the Workplace: Conversations About the Impact on Employers and Employees, a white paper published by WSPS.

Participants agreed that understanding all of the nuances of this issue will take time and experience.

What employers need to know:

  • Prior to legalization, marijuana is the most prevalently used illicit drug in Canada.
  • Consuming recreational marijuana at work is and will remain illegal.
  • Marijuana use, particularly THC products (the principal psychoactive constituent), can cause residual impairment for 24 to 48 hours.
  • The legislation may affect the entire organization, not just safety-sensitive positions.

Basic principles when dealing with marijuana in the workplace

  • Safety should always come first.
  • Protecting employees’ rights is important, but employers have rights too.

How to move your organization forward

  • Review highlights of the federal cannabis legislation and Ontario’s new workplace rules.
  • Update your hazard assessments to include the potential for impairment.
  • Create a policy and program on the use of any substance that can cause impairment. Write the policy in a way that leaves room for dialogue. Include definitions of key terms, such as “impairment” and “fitness to work.”
  • Consider the entire organization’s needs, not just safety-sensitive positions.
  • Consult with stakeholders and experts.
  • Follow what leading organizations are doing, such as the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). In the white paper, you’ll find an interview with Megan MacRae, the TTC’s executive director, Human Resources, on the organization’s drug and alcohol testing program.

How WSPS can help

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As the wheels continue to turn on the journey we know as the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala, a special appeal: there is a need for more judges.

The task is relatively straightforward, with volunteers to receive copies of online submissions on or about September 4.

Submissions are then reviewed and returned with scoring to organizers (details will be communicated to volunteers). The time frame is designed to give judges enough time between reading the submissions, each of which is a maximum of 2,000 words.

When it all comes together, the drum roll on the 2018 Oustanding Business Achievement Awards gala—Friday, October 12 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia—can begin.

“We appreciate the help from our volunteer judges!” said Sharon Sielky, chair of the Chamber’s OBAA committee.

Those interested in volunteering should contact the Chamber office—by email ( or phone (519) 336-2400.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is recruiting for a full-time staff position that will combine new membership development with member retention and membership services, including affinity type programs that will benefit Chamber members.

The Manager of Sales and Retention position will report to Shirley de Silva, president and CEO.

Competencies in negotiation, leadership, networking, innovation, communication and strong time management skills will be seen in the successful candidate.

For more information or to express an interest in the position, contact Shirley by email ( or by phone (519) 336-2400, extension 1.


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Lambton Shield, currently a digital-only media outlet that has its roots in the very first publication in Lambton County, is planning a debut print edition, which will be distributed to attendees at this year’s 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala on Friday, October 12, 2018.

The circulation of the print edition of Lambton Shield will be 7,000 copies, with approximately 3,000 copies delivered by Canada Post to business addresses in Sarnia-Lambton. The balance will be available in high-traffic locations, including the OBAA event.

A proud Chamber of Commerce member, Lambton Shield was launched in 2010 and is currently edited by J.D. Booth, a seasoned journalist who has called Sarnia-Lambton home since 1985.

In an offer EXCLUSIVE to Chamber members, Lambton Shield is setting aside a very limited number of “category protected” one-quarter page and one-eighth page advertising opportunities for the debut issue. What this means is that for those who respond, there will be no competitors to their line of business in the first issue.

For this offer, which expires on Friday, August 31 at 4 p.m., a total of TEN one-quarter of a page size advertisements will be made available for Chamber members at a rate of $249.95 plus tax per advertisement. A total of TWENTY one-eighth of a page size advertisements will be made available for Chamber members at a rate of $199 plus tax per advertisement. The print publication format is 8.5 inches by 11 inches. The rate is based on the advertiser providing “camera-ready” material (a small fee for design services will be charged in addition to the special rate if that is required).

Chamber members who take advantage of this opportunity will also be able to secure a commitment for up to the first six issues of Lambton Shield at the identical terms of the debut print issue (including the category exclusivity). NOTE: Purchasing any future advertisements beyond the debut issue is NOT a requirement of this offer.

To secure your space, indicate the category and your choice of one-quarter of a page or one-eighth of a page sizes and send an email to J.D Booth (


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A local group that has consistently worked to promote and improve rail service in the area has teamed up with VIA Rail Canada to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

The initiative by RAIL (Rail Advocacy in Lambton) follows the selection of Sarnia as one of 40 cities across Canada to be involved in the 40th-anniversary celebrations.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is pleased to help build awareness for a special event that will take place on Saturday, August 25 as part of VIA Rail’s “40 Sustainable Actions for Our 40th Anniversary.”

VIA Rail will be making a contribution to the future of Centennial Park by planting several Native Autumn Fantasy Maple tres.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Organizers encourage attendees to watch for VIA RAIL’s Zachery Wells (pictured), an onboard services attendant who will entertain children and adults alike with magic tricks, juggling and balloon art.

“Rail transportation has the ability to combine energy efficiency with economic, environmental and social value,” said Mabel Higgins, who along with Jim Houston, chairs the RAIL organization.

“Both young and old seek a more civilized way to travel and leave their cars at home (through need or choice),” added Houston. “The members of RAIL continue to seek a high-performance passenger rail service into Sarnia that is more frequent and accessible.”

The day will start with the opening tree planting ceremony of the Autumn Fantasy Maples near the north parking lot. Following the planting, local residents and visitors alike are invited to tour VIA Rail Canada`s 40th Anniversary Locomotive, Coach Car, the Glen Fraser Lounge Car and the Skyline Dome Car.

Also present will be the Sarnia Historical Society, Lambton College student representatives and the CNR 6069 restoration project committee.

The CNR 6069 train will be open for tours as well. RAIL & VIA Rail Staff will be available to assist and answer questions. Free draws throughout the event will culminate in VIA’s premier draw for a roundtrip business class voucher for two anywhere within the Quebec City-Windsor/Sarnia corridor.

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With so many people nominated for one of the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, organizers at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce felt commissioning a short video to help with the online process would be helpful.

David Burrows, a Chamber member well known in the community for his social media skills and live streaming (including this year’s 2018 OBAA event on Friday, October 12), came through with flying colours.

As mentioned in the video above, nominees will have already received their notification and those who have accepted the nomination will have received a link to the Google Forms document.

If for ANY reason you have not received that email, be sure to contact the Chamber’s office at (519) 336-2400.

And remember, the deadline for submissions is August 29, 2018 at 4 p.m.


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Tickets are now on sale for the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala which takes place on Friday, October 12.

The online sales can be accessed by clicking HERE through the Imperial Theatre box office system.

To provide a little “nudging,” the Chamber is offering a chance for “early bird” ticket buyers to win one of EIGHT $25 gift certificates to the coffee shop or restaurant of their choice. Lucky winners will be drawn randomly from those who purchase their OBAA tickets by 5 p.m. on Friday, September 14, 2018. 

The event, one of the year’s most anticipated events on the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce calendar, is often close to being sold out. This year, demand is expected to be even higher, at least partly due to a new open nomination approach, where both Chamber members and non-members alike are open to being nominated.

The result was a higher number of nominees than has been the case in years past.

This year’s ticket prices remain unchanged at $75 per person.

Shirley de Silva, CEO and president of the Chamber, said taking an “open arms” approach to the OBAA event, with lead sponsor Libro Credit Union, has already generated new interest in the organization, with the hope being that even those who may not yet be members will consider coming on board once they get a taste of all that’s offered.

“The Chamber has so much to offer, not only in the events that are organized but in the ‘behind the scenes’ work where we advocate on issues that are key to the success of all businesses in the area.”



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A group dedicated to helping businesses—including members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce—has launched an initiative designed to help advance manufacturing expertise and activity throughout Canada.

Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium—EMC—has provided an online resource providing up-to-date labour market information on the manufacturing sector, with manufacturers, job seekers, students, and employment service providers being the ones most likely to benefit. All that’s required to access the database—found HERE—is to complete a survey, which will become part of a growing body of information (although the data cannot be identified to any individual or company).


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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and by extension the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is behind a coalition advocating free trade principles within North America and around the world.

Keep Trade Free is intended to help organizations mobilize at the local, state and federal levels to advocate for freer trade within North American and around the world, as well as to ensure a successful renegotiation of NAFTA for continued economic prosperity for Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

While the principles of free trade are well-recognized as producing net benefits for all those involved, current initiatives by the U.S. threaten to destabilize the free flow of goods and services in ways that can already be seen.

The idea that “we are all in this together” is a message that is resonating with Keep Trade Free supporters.

The facts on the table worth considering in any discussion around trade:

  • Canada is the largest trading partner of the U.S., resulting in U.S. companies relying on Canadian buyers to the tune of nearly 300 billion USD.
  • Nearly nine million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada, which leaves the U.S. at risk of losing two million of those jobs by 2026 with continued tariffs and a failure to reach a new NAFTA agreement.
  • Each American household stands to lose more than 1,000 USD of purchasing power without a renewed NAFTA. With an average household income of 59,000 USD, families will lose up to 20% of what they have to spend after paying all of their bills. That is real pain for the average U.S. family.
  • More than two-thirds of a trillion USD of goods and services cross the U.S.-Canada border every year, which amounts to nearly a quarter of all U.S. trade.
  • The supply chains of U.S. and Canadian companies are so inextricably integrated that it would take companies three to five years to fully restore their suppliers with solely domestic providers. No company can weather that storm, U.S. or Canadian.

Canada and the U.S. have been growing together as neighbours for nearly 200 years, creating shared prosperity for businesses on both sides of the border.

We need to come together with one voice to protect North American companies and jobs because we are already one business community.

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Peninsula, a firm built on the premise that not every firm in need of professional human resources and employee relations advice has access to those services beyond those that may be directly working for them, has partnered with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as a value-added provider.

The firm is introducing BrightHR, a platform that streamlines the process of keeping employee records up to date and in one place.

Peninsula, which was established in 1983 and is based in Toronto, supports more than 50,000 small- to medium-sized businesses worldwide.

Professionals on the Peninsula team understand the needs of a business, providing expert consultations in HR and employment-related matters.

In an arrangement with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce (through an affiliation with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce), a Peninsula consultant will visit your business, conduct a review of your current documents and processes, and recommend solutions for workplace compliance.

Using a tailored suite of documents and processes, Peninsula will recommend solutions for workplace compliance, helping a Chamber member to establish a framework to effectively manage employees.

“You’ll be better equipped to manage everyday HR concerns,” says an overview of Peninsula services.

Even better is a commitment by Peninsula to provide ongoing access to the firm’s guidance and compliance teams.

“It’s not just for emergencies, but also to support any day-to-day matters, too,” according to the firm’s overview information.

The firm understands that every industry has its own unique challenges and is confident that it can resolve these issues.

To connect with Peninsula and get started with a discussion on how it can help, contact the Chamber at (519) 336-2400 and ask for a referral.


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